Accessibility Page Navigation
Style sheets must be enabled to view this page as it was intended.
Scottish Plastics and Rubber Association Scottish Plastics and Rubber Association

Polymer Process Special Interest Group

SPRA members from polymer processing companies participated in a Working Party meeting on 22 May at Rosti UK Ltd, Larkhall, under the banner of the Polymer Process Special Interest Group (PPSIG), recently set up by Materials KTN.  The working party meeting, chaired by Dr Alan Wood (Victrex Plc) and attended by representatives from Rosti UK, Hardie Polymers, Vitasheet Group, Carron Phoenix, Gas Injection Worldwide and P W Hall, discussed the challenges facing the sector and the innovation needs that will lead to economic growth.

Delegates were asked to rank the challenges in terms of risk and impact.  They were also asked to highlight any specific areas of technical challenges in their own companies. 

The PPSIG Steering Board has now collated the results of the Scottish Working Party, with those from similar events in London and Belfast, to give an overall picture for the UK. 

The top 7 challenges facing the processing sector are:

 Materials: design, utilisation and discovery.
 People: staff recruitment, retention, training and up-skilling.
 Collaboration: B2B, industry – academia interface.
 Energy: cost, availability, process considerations.
 Markets:  understanding end user demands, trading conditions, imports.
 Innovation: skills, processes, organisational culture, IP, confidentiality.

Funding, product, regional variance, legislation and supply chain were also identified as relevant issues but of lesser importance.

wordcloud identifying specific technical challenges
At the Rosti meeting, representatives of Scottish companies considered the uncertainty of energy supply is a major concern.  From a Scottish perspective, skills shortage was considered more of an issue than at the other meetings.

When the Steering Board superimposed all the Risk/Impact maps generated by the working parties, there were no discernible patterns but a wordcloud was produced to give an overview of some of the specific technical challenges raised. 

Then four headings were selected to encompass the majority of the challenges highlighted at the Working Party level.

Disruptive Technologies:

 graphene & nanotechnology; SMART and value added polymers; additive /  rapid manufacturing.

Energy and Sustainability:

 lower energy process technology; bio-derived materials; materials for energy  generation; managing the energy burden; sharing of best practice.

Process Measurement and Understanding

 measure materials not machine; enabling “right weighting”; new in line  methodologies for material & compounding;  quality assurance.

Collaboration and People

 not traditionally funded through the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) but  funding may be forthcoming from other governmental bodies.

The next step could be to set up ‘Think Tanks’ to focus on specific challenge statements, for example “Additive manufacture will be directly attributable for the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs in the world-wide plastics industry in the next 10 years.”  The report from the PPSIG also identified a number of other activities in which PPSIG could engage.

The polymer processing community in Scotland can get involved by participating in the working party.  In the first instance you can contact the SPRA representatives on the SIG Steering Board, Fergus Hardie and Ralph McNeill, for more information and to contribute your thoughts and feedback.  You can also contact Gareth Davies (Industry Collaboration Manager at Materials KTN)

To access the full report, interested parties can register with the TSB’s _connect portal and join the Polymer Processing Special Interest Group for updates on progress of the SIG, by clicking here.

Report by Charlie Geddes, SPRA Hon Secretary, June 2013


Corporate Members

Events Diary

PDM Event

11 June 2019
Manchester Central Convention Complex

find out more

Technical Info from SPRA

  • Materials Thermoplastics, Thermosets, Elastomers, Additives.
  • Processes Moulding, Extrusion, Thermoforming, Ancillaries.
  • Design Product, Mould, CAE, Testing.
  • Applications Healthcare, Packaging, Electronics, Other Markets.
  • Environment Waste, Recycling, Sustainability, Legislation, Energy.
  • Business Issues Network, Seminars, Competitiveness, Innovation, Regulation.